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University partnership offers free hearing health care for uninsured adults

By Nicholas Gerbis
Published: Monday, January 8, 2024 - 5:05am

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The Arizona Commission for the Deaf and the Hard of Hearing (ACDHH) is partnering with University of Arizona on the Hearing Healthcare Assistance Project, which provides free hearing health care for eligible people ages 21 and older who lack insurance.

The project began at Arizona State University in 2021 and expanded to Northern Arizona University in 2023.

Research links hearing loss with isolation, depression and cognitive decline, as well as stress and increased risks of accidents and falls.

But people without insurance often cannot afford hearing aids, which can cost thousands of dollars.

Michelle Michaels.

Michelle Michaels, who manages the program for ACDHH, says it's not just about the hearing aid, but about the diagnosis, counseling, education and follow-up care U A will provide.

“We're not the only project or program that exists, but we are the only one who is looking at the whole person and not just the ear,” she said.

Amy Wheeler of the UA Speech Language and Hearing Sciences Department, who led the effort to bring the project to UA, echoed the need to look beyond the technology.

“It’s not the device alone that leads them to success, and I think a lot of patients maybe thinking that just the one device is enough has led them to a frustrating place,” she said.

UA.
Amy Wheeler.

The UA clinic offers support from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Patients meet with a student primary provider and an audiologist professor, who there for support.

Interested parties should contact the ACDHH at 602-542-3323 (videophone: 480-559-9441) or visit their website, acdhh.org.

“We will ask them some questions and see which program or project that exists here in Arizona or nationwide might be best to help them,” said Michaels.

The ACDHH is a state commission established in 1977 to improve the quality of life for deaf and hard of hearing residents and serves as the statewide bureau of information and referral for those groups.

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